KUALA LUMPUR, June 9 — The Selangor state government will soon distribute free Covid-19 home assessment tools to residents to help prevent people with Covid-19 self-isolating at home from deteriorating.
The home assessment kits — which include a KN95 face mask, a thermometer, pulse oximeter, medication, and a saliva-based test kit — will be distributed via local community centres. The state has allocated RM1.25 million to supply the test kits.
A pulse oximeter measures one’s oxygen saturation level so that one is able detect dangerously low oxygen levels in the blood before feeling physically out of breath — a symptom of deterioration with Covid-19.
Selangor Menteri Besar Amirudin Shari said the home assessment tool will help Covid-19 patients under home quarantine to assess their health condition with assistance from a district health officer through the SELangkah app.
“This will help alleviate the congestion at Covid Assessment Centres and district health clinics while applying the ‘support’ element in the FTTIS (find-trace-test-isolate-support system) framework mooted by the World Health Organization (WHO),” Amirudin told a press conference today.
The country’s Covid-19 death toll has been rising at an alarming rate over the past month, with 293 cases classified as “brought in dead” as of June 8, meaning these people died from Covid-19 before they could seek medical treatment. Of the total, 123 BID cases were reported in May, Amirudin said.
Selangor has the second-highest proportion of BID cases in Malaysia at 27.6 per cent after Sabah.
Among the principal reasons Amirudin cited for high BID incidence were unsuitable residential conditions for quarantine, people at high-risk of developing severe disease from Covid-19, and lack of health care resources to physically attend to people with Covid-19.
The menteri besar also claimed “dangerous” coronavirus variants as a factor behind the high BID rate, but international research has yet to definitively link new variants to higher risk of hospitalisation or fatality, even if the variants are believed to be more transmissible.
A UK study found that people infected with the Alpha B.1.1.7 variant first found in the UK did not have more serious symptoms and did not face higher risk of death. The Guardian reported that the Delta variant first detected in India was linked to a more than twofold higher risk of hospitalisation compared to the Alpha variant, but experts reportedly cautioned that this was far from certain. Imperial College London epidemiologist Prof Neil Ferguson was quoted saying that the Delta variant was between 30 per cent and 100 per cent more transmissible than the Alpha variant.
In Malaysia’s case, people infected with Covid-19 may be dying at home because of a surge of infections overwhelming the health care system, preventing them from getting early diagnosis and treatment.
The Selangor state government has also announced that it will conduct its third round of Covid-19 screenings, with the aim of screening 100,000 individuals in hotspot and industrial areas such as factories.
The second phase of Selangor’s mass testing programme has managed to screen 117,314 individuals as of June 8, since the phase began on May 8. The state government is allocating RM10.7 million for the third stage of the testing programme.
Selangor will also set up a monitoring committee to oversee its prevention of outbreak at ignition sites (POIS) programme for three months to mitigate the spread of Covid-19 at work. A total of 120 companies comprising over 50,000 workers have signed up for the POIS programme.
“Companies that implement this programme have been found to be able to reduce the number of cases dramatically, as well as avoid the occurrence of factory and workplace closures,” Amirudin said.
The Special Committee on Health Control Compliance for Industries will be chaired by Dr Khalid Ibrahim, former director of Selangor’s state health department, and comprise Bangi MP and former International Trade and Industry Deputy Minister Ong Kian Ming as well as Selangor Task Force Operations (STFO) director Dr Mohd Farhan Rusli.
Apart from overseeing the POIS programme, the special committee will also assist in the implementation of vaccination programmes for “economic frontliners”, Amirudin said.
The state government has allocated RM500,000 for the programme, as part of its latest Kita Selangor 2.0 stimulus package worth RM551.56 million announced earlier today. Selangor has so far announced RM56.87 billion worth of stimulus packages in total since the Covid-19 outbreak began last year to help those whose livelihoods have been affected by the pandemic.